Tube unblocked after relationship strained

Proposed tube strikes due to take place last week were suspended after the union claimed they had secured “real movement and significant progress.”

The union involved, RMT, were planning the disruption over London Underground’s plan to close all manually operated ticket offices, thereby cutting 960 jobs.

The strike was prevented after London underground and the RMT union met just hours before the industrial action was planned to start, at 9pm.

The stop to industrial action was seen as a victory for on all sides. London Mayor Boris Johnson said it was a “Victory for common sense and Londoners,” while the Chief Operating Officer of the London Underground said he was “Pleased” that the commuters wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of the walkout.

Mike Cash, the acting general secretary of the RMT union, said “solidarity and determination of our LU members” they had been able to make progress on “the issues at the heart of this dispute in talks with the Tube management over the bank holiday weekend”.

He added: “Pre-conditions have been removed, protection of earnings has been agreed and we now have a viable framework for a proper review of the cuts and closures programme.”

However, London Underground Chief Operating Officer Phil Hufton also stated: “Modernisation of the Tube means that it is our intention to close all ticket offices, used in less than three per cent  of journeys, and instead deliver a vastly better customer service by bringing more staff than ever before out on to the concourses of stations at ticket machines, ticket gates and platforms – just as we delivered during the London 2012 Games.

“This will also allow us to save £50m per annum to reinvest in better and more reliable train services and to keep fares down.”

Boris Johnson added fuel to the fire, in a debate where everyone came away with something, by discussing the unions tactics as “not working.”

During the 48-hour Tube strike, Transport for London said 50% of services were running on Tuesday, while 52% of services ran on Wednesday.

Whilst this has been a successful intervention of industrial action, it is understood that the plans for future action are being considered, with all issues still not aired.

Matt Harding

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